East Hartford senior combo-guard Kahari Beauford maturing as player and person
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jan. 17, 2014
The clock had just started to roll in the second quarter at Manchester High School, and the Indians’ student section was already in full force. They were pumped up for this divisional match-up and let the East Hartford team know they thought they were “over-rated.”
The chants echoed across the gym in the tightly contested game as the Indians had the Hornets locked in a close battle.
With his team leading by just two points and standing on the baseline right in front of the MHS student section, Kahari Beaufort gave a peripheral one-word response to the overzealous crowd – “scoreboard.” The senior guard then jogged down the court, found a comfortable spot beyond the arc on the wing and drained a three. On the very next Hornets possession, different spot, same result.
Kahari Beaufort: 6 – Pressure of big games: 0.
Beaufort’s ability to handle the pressure of big games and being one of the top-ranked players in Connecticut is a true testament not only to his growth as a basketball player, but also to his maturity as a young man.
“I heard the over-rated chants, and then I go home and I hear, 'You’re the best player in Connecticut, keep it up.' They just say it to get into my head, but me as a player, I can’t let that happen,” said Beaufort.
Knowing how to handle these type of situations is an invaluable skill that will benefit the combo-guard as his basketball career progresses, but it’s an attribute that he didn’t always possess. “In the past, I wasn’t coachable and didn’t like to listen or anything, but now – like the past two or three years – a lot of maturity has built inside of me,” said Beaufort.
In the past, if something negative was said to him, Kahari said he would quickly snap back. “I wouldn’t know how to take it,” he said. He didn’t understand that when it came to constructive criticism, it was just meant to make him better. Beaufort said now he listens to the comments and then heads to the gym that night to work hard.
“Now I’m just calm,” said Beaufort. “I like to talk things out instead of arguing anything. I’m just really grateful and thankful for the people that have been by my side, like my mom.”
Another person that has been by his side since middle school is his current high school basketball coach Ed Lavoie. “On the court, in class, he’s just always there,” said Beaufort. “I really don’t have a father, so coach, he’s like a father figure in my life.”
Beaufort and Lavoie have known each other since Beaufort was in the seventh grade at East Hartford Middle School. “I made a pact that I’d help him until he got hopefully to college and was able to fulfill one of his dreams and that was to play in college,” said Lavoie.
Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches, Beaufort plays more of a combo-guard role in high school. He has a silky smooth jump shot but can also take his man off the bounce and find a way to the rim. As of press time he is averaging 17.1 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals a game. Beaufort anticipates playing more at the point in college.
Although he has yet to decide where he will play next year, Beaufort said he has received offers from Baylor, University of Miami, Florida, Monmouth, Canisius College and Providence. Minnesota, the University of Connecticut, Rhode Island, St. John’s, Missouri and Wichita State are among the number of colleges that have also expressed interest in him.
Beaufort said he’s considering announcing his college choice on senior night, on Feb. 21, at home against New Britain. “I was thinking about just coming out with my hat on and just surprise everybody,” said Beaufort.
Until then, Beaufort said he will continue to focus on school and basketball. He wakes up every morning at 5, and his mom has breakfast ready for him before he heads to LA Fitness to work out until 6:45 a.m. After school and practice, he’s back at the gym from 6 to 9:30 p.m. – every day.
His hard work is paying off, as he was recently recognized as one of 984 seniors and one of three Connecticut players who have been nominated to play in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Games in Chicago. The final roster of 24 boys will be announced during the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Show on ESPNU on Jan. 29. The game is scheduled for April 2 at 9:30 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.
Even with all of the attention that he’s received, there is still one person who is very special in Beaufort’s life that has never seen him play basketball – his grandmother. “My grandmother was always there for me, and I love her to death,” said Beaufort. “She always told me always work hard, and I’ve just been working hard ever since.”
Beaufort said his grandmother is in a nursing home, but he hopes she can attend one of his games this season. He takes a moment before each game to honor his grandfather who has passed away and to think about his grandmother.
“She brings me good luck all the time,” said Beaufort.